It’s no surprise that Conservative politicians and their fans are criticizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his kind and polite comments about Fidel Castro today following the former Cuban leader’s death at 9o.

Special emphasis on the word “polite” in the preceding sentence, because at times like these, most responsible leaders try to say something nice about deceased leaders and political foes. It’s called etiquette.

I, for one Canadian, am not ashamed of Trudeau for saying what he felt, even if I might not hold the same level of respect for Castro. And I think those criticizing Trudeau for his written statement — Rona Ambrose among them — and claiming to be ashamed are petty opportunists looking for any opportunity to make personal gains in politics or whatever field they work in. And the fact that foreigners like Marco Rubio took shots at Trudeau for his statement further proves why Rubio is a political loser in the United States. (See CBC report on the backlash.)

Say what you will about Castro, but there are people mourning him today, and Trudeau was comforting them and remarking on what he saw as some of Fidel’s accomplishments. It would have been irresponsible for the Canadian prime minister to be dancing in the streets — either literally or figuratively — with others celebrating Castro’s death, just as it would be irresponsible for him to celebrate the death of an unpopular American president responsible for the deaths of many people around the world.

The fact that others in lesser positions in Canada and the United States chose to criticize Fidel Castro today is their prerogative: they didn’t need to display good manners and be magnanimous.

I am proud of Justin Trudeau for taking the high road today.

Here is his statement:

“It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President.

Undated photo of late Cuban leader Fidel Castro. (Antonio Milena/Wikimedia Commons)
Undated photo of late Cuban leader Fidel Castro. (Antonio Milena/Wikimedia Commons)

“Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.

“While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.

“I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader.”


Photo credit: Justin Trudeau via / CC BY-NC-SA